Dr. Shackley is currently engaged in a number of research projects and continues field and lab research on archaeological obsidian in western North America including northern Mexico. This research continues to involve undergraduate and graduate students in the energy-dispersive x-ray fluorescence laboratory in the Archaeological XRF Laboratory, and geomaterials research in the Geomaterials/Lithic Technology Lab. Further information on the laboratory and facilities can be accessed at URL:
Pursuing long-term research on Southwestern obsidian sources, Dr. Shackley received NSF and Stahl Endowment funding to continue the quantitative analysis of archaeological obsidian from the Southwest and northern Mexico through the Archaeological Research Facility. Field research also continues in the search for as yet unlocated sources of artifact quality obsidian, particularly in Arizona, New Mexico, and Chihuahua. Analyses of archaeological obsidian from the Southwest is derived from all periods from Paleoindian to Classic period Hohokam and Late Prehistoric, and many regions, and includes some of the Hearst Museum's collections. Most of this data can be accessed at URL:
In collaboration with a number of Southwestern archaeologists at the University of Hawaii (James Bayman), Marquette University (Jane Peterson), and the private sector (Douglas Mitchell), Shackley has been pursuing intensive studies of Classic period Hohokam exchange and interaction through obsidian characterization. Preliminary results suggest that obsidian source provenance in major Hohokam centers such as Casa Grande, Pueblo Grande, and Marana mirrors multi-ethnic relationships within the greater Hohokam interaction sphere as well as elite control of resources. These relationships cannot necessarily be discerned using other data sets such as ceramics. These results have been published by the group recently in American Antiquity, Journal of Field Archaeology, Journal of Anthropological Research, and the Proceedings of the International Symposium on Archaeometry and reflect funding from NSF, the Stahl Endowment, Southwest Parks and Monuments Association, and the Smithsonian Institution Fellowship Grants.
In collaboration with Dr. Rosemary Joyce, a fairly extensive XRF study of archaeological and source obsidian from the Lower Ulua Valley in Honduras resulted in the discovery of two new sources, and sampling at La Esperanza in January of 1998. The use of these new sources locally has not been previously documented.
In collaboration with the El Paso Archaeological Society, continuing fieldwork in northern Chihuahua is focused on the discovery, field mapping, and geochemical analysis of sources of archaeological obsidian. The number of sources appears to be very great, and this project will likely continue well into the next century. Analysis of archaeological obsidian from sites in northern Sonora, and Cerro Juanaqueña near Nuevo Casas Grandes further suggest a large number of sources.
In 1996, Dr. Shackley began research with Dr. Bruce Huckell of the Maxwell Museum, University of New Mexico, at McEuen Cave (AZ W:13:6 ASM), an Archaic period rockshelter in the Gila Mountains of southeastern Arizona.
The rockshelter has yielded dates in the Late Archaic/Early Agricultural period (2000-3000 B.P.), as well as a tremendous number of organic artifacts including baskets, a complete atlatl, dart and arrow fragments, cordage, and early maize cobs. Dry rockshelters are very uncommon in the southern Southwest, and the project directors are hoping to address the effect of both early agriculture and the advent of bow technology on hunter-gatherer society. During the summer of 1997, working with graduate students from the University of New Mexico, and grad student Eduardo Serafín from Berkeley, testing revealed a large area of undisturbed deposits with maize cob fragments in association with Cortaro, Chiricahua, and San Pedro Archaic projectile points. Obsidian hydration analyses and radiocarbon suggest that the lower levels are not vertically mixed and nine maize fragments submitted to the CAMS Lab at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratories for AMS 14C dating yielded dates between over 4000 to 2200 B.P (2 s ), also indicating relatively intact deposits. The one 2 s maize date over 4000 years old, while out of sequence, may indicate one of the earliest forager-farmer occupations in North America.
We received NSF funding for a second field season in July 2001. We expanded the excavations to more that 5 cubic meters in the "habitation area" and another area to the north that suggested a maize storage feature. Forty-eight organic samples of maize, squash, and wood fragments were submitted for 14C dating, and nearly 1/2 of the samples of maize and squash were near or earlier than 4000 years old substantiating the one early date from the 1997 field season. The analysis and reporting of this important Early Agricultural Period find is continuing.
Beginning in the summer of 2006, I direct the "Stone Tool Sources of the American Southwest: Archaeological Field Petrology" field school, integrating quarry analysis and archaeological petrology methods for obsidian, dacite, and chalcedony stone sources and secondary deposits, mainly in New Mexico. The field school, based out of Albuquerque, New Mexico, uses classroom, field, and laboratory techniques in the understanding of sources of archaeological stone in the Southwest.
Back to home page
Revised:21 March 2015